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Using Dehydrated Sourdough Starter

If you are interested in exploring sourdough baking but are nervous about creating a starter from scratch, then using a dehydrated sourdough starter is for you! It’s a super simple process to get a tangy, delicious base for your new baking adventures!

dehydrated starter

Quick disclosure, I’m about to use the word “starter” approximately 4,000 times. Apologies for the repetition, there just isn’t a better way to say it! 

What is dehydrated sourdough starter?

A great way to begin your sourdough journey is with a dried sourdough starter. Essentially, someone took an active sourdough starter and dehydrated it. 

These flakey bits of dried starter can then be rehydrated to create fresh, active starter to use in sourdough recipes.

Some folks will dehydrate their own starter as a sort of insurance policy in case something catastrophic happens with their fresh starter. 

What are the pros of a dry sourdough starter?

Less Time

You can absolutely make your own starter using wild yeast for free. There are many resources online for how to do that. I have personally made new starter several times using all-purpose flour and water. However, this takes around one week to get an active starter, closer to two weeks before you develop that tangy delicious flavor. 

When using a dehydrated starter, the whole process takes only five days for a full flavor, active starter. 

packet of dehydrated sourdough starter rough and tumble farmhouse

Flavor

As previously mentioned, it takes a few weeks before your sourdough starter will develop its own unique taste for making flavorful sourdough bread, pancakes, etc. When using dry starter to begin with, you will have those complex flavors right out of the gate!  

Less Waste

This method has zero waste! If you make a starter from scratch using just natural yeast, flour, and water, you have to toss out some of the mixture as you do daily feedings. With the dry method there is no discard. Just adding so many grams of water and so many grams of flour to a glass jar and ta-da! Amazing starter ready to go to work.

Heritage

It’s pretty cool to have part of a starter that may have been creating breads for 10+ years, with flavors unique to wherever it has been tended. The first sourdough starter I ever used was back at a sheep farm and it came from San Fransisco. So cool!

Cons of a Dehydrated Starter

To be honest there are few cons when it comes to buying a packet of this sourdough goodness. Here are the only two I could come up with.

Cost

For the most part you won’t be able to get dehydrated starter for free, you’ll have to buy it. I’ve seen them anywhere from $8-$16 plus shipping. You can absolutely make your own from scratch but it does take some time and a fair amount of flour/water tossed in the compost or garbage.

Not Your Own

One neat thing about starting one from scratch is you will be making a starter unique to your own home, flour, etc. There will be no other starter quite like yours anywhere! Granted, as you work with a dehydrated starter it will develop a uniqueness different from the mother batch it came from. 

Where to Buy Dehydrated Starter

I was lucky enough to partner with Jamie from Sourdough on the Farm to get a great packet of dehydrated starter. She has both gluten free and regular option. She also has these beautiful bowl covers, essential for making sourdough bread recipes.

sourdough on the farm products rough and tumble farmhouse

How to Use Dehydrated Sourdough Starter

When you purchase dehydrated starter it will most likely come with directions on how to reconstitute it. I’ll give you a general rundown here but for best results follow the instructions that came with your packet.

Day 1- Add the starter to a glass jar, one pint will do. Let’s do our first feeding! Mix in a few tablespoons of water and a few tablespoons of flour. The starter should be like a thick pancake batter. Cover loosely with a towel, plastic bag, plastic wrap, jar cover, etc.  Do not use an airtight container. It needs to breathe and exhale! It is a living being after all.

Put the mason jar in a warm spot, somewhere around the 70s F. If your home is colder, the starter will take longer to do its thing. If it is warmer, the fermentation process will happen more quickly. 

Day 2- Time for the second feeding. Repeat the first steps, but add another tablespoon of flour and water. Mix well. Again cover, and stick somewhere warm. This whole process we are aiming for that thick pancake batter consistency. 

Day 3 – Repeat the exact same steps as day 2!

Day 4 –  Add around 1/2 cup flour and a quarter cup of water. Mix! If it seems too thick add a little more water, or flour if too thin. Cover and stash in the warm spot.

Day 5 – Let’s graduate to a bigger jar! Pull out a quart-sized mason jar and transfer the starter to the jar. Add around one cup of flour and about 3/4 cup water, mix, cover.

After five days your starter should be fragrant, bubbly, and ready to use in recipes!

Now that your starter is up and running you will have to maintain a regular feeding schedule. Again, refer to the instructions that came with your packet.

Favorite Sourdough Recipes

I’ll be honest here. I’m not exactly a sourdough aficionado. Hence why I’m actually a good resource for whether or not a dehydrated starter is a good option for beginners. I do enjoy making bread, pancakes, english muffins, etc. but I’m not out here developing my own sourdough recipes. 

loaf of sourdough bread rough and tumble farmhouse

For great tips and tricks I’d recommend checking out Hummingbird Acres. Another good option is Farmhouse on Boone.

Best Flour for Sourdough

There are a lot of options for making sourdough starters. If you are just beginning on this baking journey, I would recommend using an all-purpose flour. As you gain confidence with your starter you can move to whole wheat flour or even create gluten-free recipes!

Storing Your Starter

​Depending on how often you use your starter you will either store it on the counter or in the fridge. 

​If you keep it on the counter you will need to keep it fed daily, either using up some of the starter for recipes or discarding it. 

Personally, I have a hard time keeping up with daily maintenance of a starter. I am more of an occasional baker so mine ends up being kept in the fridge for a few days each week.

Feed the starter well, put on a cap that actually seals, and store it in the fridge. When you plan to use it, pull it out the night before, feed it again, then let it sit loosely covered in a warmish place. By morning it should be at its peak for use.

Our Gabled Home has a no feedings/no discard method that I really like to use. If you are intimidated by the idea of maintaining a starter this is probably a good method for you.

Watch and Learn

To follow the process from start to finish check out the YouTube channel.

Other Bread Recipes

If you are looking for something to make right here and now, commercial yeast is your friend! Here are some of my favorite bread recipes that are not sourdough but still taste delicious. 

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